PhD research project: Remote Sensing of Wetlands
CCNY/EAS Lab: Land-Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions & Terrestrial Ecology
Graduate Research Advisor: Prof. Tzortziou and Prof. McDonald
Contact Information: Rm: 915, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Alana Menendez, MSc student in the EAS Department
Alana: Hi Brian, I can’t believe it is already November and time to start thinking about research projects for next summer. What did you do last summer?
Brian: I spent three months at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hydrology and Remote Sensing Lab in Beltsville, Maryland, right outside of College Park.
Alana: How did you learn about this opportunity?
Brian: I heard about this opportunity through the USGS Program at City College, and I was matched with this position based on my skillset. Seven other City College students were also matched with paid USGS internships.
Alana: Wow, that’s a lot of students matched with USGS internships! What was your project at the USDA Lab focused on?
Brian: I was analyzing high-resolution optical data from the WorldView3 satellite, a proprietary satellite, in order to monitor crop residue cover. The USDA had an agreement with the owners of the WorldView3 satellite that allowed me to access this data.
Alana: That’s an interesting union between the government and private sector! Have you worked with this type of data in the past?
Brian: My previous experience focused on working with datasets derived from microwave remote sensing, so this summer experience was significant because it allowed me to expand my knowledge of satellite imagery.
Alana: Any specific skills you gained from working with this satellite imagery?
Brian: It really allowed me to become more comfortable working with the programming language R. R is a very powerful tool for analyzing geospatial data, in addition to statistics, which it is more commonly known for. I also got to see, first-hand, just how important it is to have ground-based measurements that are able to validate analyzed satellite data.
Alana: Do you have any advice for students that may be interested in getting involved in remote sensing?
Brian: Well, you need to like computer work! In this line-of-work you also need to be prepared to be completely stumped at times, with variation in how much you are able to achieve day-to-day.
Alana: It is very clear you were able to achieve a lot in those three months! It sounds like a very exciting and growing field. What have you been researching since back at City College?
Brian: I’ve been studying wetlands near the Chesapeake Bay, which is close in proximity to the site of my summer work. I’ve been able to apply the new skills I gained in optical data to working with these wetlands.
Alana: It sounds like that was a great experience that was able to propel some of your PhD work. Thanks for your time!